We Knew Him When


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

“We knew him when.”  These are the words countless in cyberspace will offer in January 2009.  As Congressman Jerry Northington, a Democrat from Delaware, is sworn into office, Citizen Journalists throughout numerous net neighborhoods will chortle.  Each of us who recalls when possum was but a blur in the blogosphere will reflect on when we first met the Vietnam veteran, small businessman, family fellow, and sage.

For me, it was so long ago, I do not recall the date exactly.  Jerry, whose real-life name I did not know for months, and I had our first encounter online.  We connected and communed at Daily Kos.  I know not when the Neurological Veterinarian first joined the forum.  However, I did search for his first comment on what some lovingly refer to as DKos.  While the signature is now globally changed, and thus provides a clue to who this marvelous man might be, then, in June 2006, Tuesday the 20th to be exact, the future Congressman Northington was known only as possum.

In a discussion on the Iraq war, military contracts, fraud and waste, our future Representative in the House voiced his sorrow for what he felt and continues to feel is near criminal [my words], or at least an embarrassment.  The veteran, all too familiar with military affairs, wrote a response to Republicans HATE accountability, and voted that way; and withdrawal, by Markos himself.  In this essay, kos informed readers . . .

Republicans defeated a Democratic measure calling for an investigation into waste and fraud in military contracts today as the Senate engaged in an emotional debate over the Iraq war.

By a 52-to-44 vote, the Senate rejected the proposal by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, calling for a panel like the one led by Harry Truman when he was a Senator, which uncovered many abuses in military spending during World War II.

Mr. Dorgan said that military spending is the worst it has ever been “right now — right now! I think the American taxpayers are being fleeced.”

Jerry joined the hundred or so that expressed their shared distress.  As people poured out their hearts, shared personal accounts, and pounded on computer keyboards, possum penned . . .

Both my state senators voted against this bill.  I am truly embarrassed.

The now candidate did not limit his focus to the current wars even before this campaign.  Only weeks after his initial plunge into Internet Discussions possum, addressed the issue of intolerance towards the Jewish population in his home state.  Doctor Northington wrote on Anti-semitism in Delaware.

Discrimination against anyone, man, or animal, disturbs this compassionate Veterinarian.  When his daughter is affected by policies that are problematic, Jerry, the proud papa, bound by far more than blood ,speaks out.  Again, in those early days as Jerry Northington blogged at Daily Kos he offered his views on As profits drop at Aetna, cancer patients & babies face cuts, By nyceve.  The father of one young and financially dependant expresses his frustration . . .

Sadly my stepdaughter has Aetna health

coverage through her father’s work.  We constantly face medical offices refusing to take the insurance.  The list of providers is getting shorter by the day.  Like others, we are looking to move her coverage from Aetna.

Family is very important to possum.  He wrote many a tale of trials and tribulations in his childhood.  Among the earliest reflections he inscribed was The Florida Possum and Politicians.  However, this tome told little of a personal past.  The mere mention of possums in the news prompted our own critter, who is currently destined for Congress, to write a missive.  It was August of the year 2006 when Jerry Northington revealed his thoughts on elections.  Then the focus was on the debacle in the Everglade Sate.

A day before that reflection, the soon-to-be Representative invited us all into his real life.  On August 10, 2006, Jerry Northington exposed more of his history.  Sharing a war tale with strangers.

Sadly, I missed that missive and many more.  I had not yet found the fine fellow who scribed a comment titled It is the little things that count. The gentle words that might have touched my heart so tenderly, had I seen them, now strike a cherished chord.  The potential Congressman, a person of superior insight, spoke of what for me is so meaningful.  Sentimental trinkets remind us of what is very valuable, the persons in our lives.  Jerry Northington shared . . .

We sometimes sleep under an afghan knitted by my mother and a quilt hand made by my grandmother.  [It is]just lovely to think of them at those times.

Tis true.  Our friends, families, and familiars are significant and sweet.  Had I known the presumptive or possible Representative of Delaware then, I would have shared stories of my own memorabilia.  However, I had yet to stumble upon the now Congressional candidate.  It was not until November 2006 that Jerry and I would come into each other’s lives.  

Apparently, I did not respond to the first comment Jerry sent to me in a diary on veterans and their letters.  That perhaps initial introduction occurred on Veterans Day, 2006.  However, within days, long before Jerry considered a run for the House, in possum’s home net neighborhood, we spoke of the electorate.  Women voters were the topic we discussed.  Pleased by possum’s interest in my own essay, I penned by gratitude.

Dearest possum . . .

Your words mean much to me.  I thank you for expressing these thoughts.

I agree; females are not the only group that does not vote.  There are many who do not cast a ballot.  In a non-presidential election year, the majority of the population rarely employs their right.  In America, we are fortunate to have forty percent turnout.

You may enjoy this treatise as well.  It discusses the broader population.  Civics. Activism.  The Cure For Voter Apathy.

Earlier today, I was working on a project needed for the morning.  I discovered that tomorrow is President John Adams date of birth.  I offer his words,

“A desire to be observed, considered, esteemed,

praised, beloved, and admired by his fellows

is one of the earliest,

as well as the keenest dispositions

discovered in the heart of man.”

 ~ John Adams [2nd US President, 1st Vice President]

Later I learned this incredible and kind person was far more than a possum or a Vietnam veteran.  After  many an exchange, Jerry was kind enough to share his essays with readers at my cyberspace home, BeThink.org.  As time marched on, and the two of us developed a friendship, I discovered Doctor Northington was and is a person of true depth.

Even as the days together in our cyberspace communities became months, and a familiarity grew, I knew nothing beyond the fact that possum was interested in education, the environment, health care, any and every issue in a myriad of universal concerns.  When we began to converse in electronic mail, I still had not seen the stranger’s impressive résumé.  It was only after Jerry Northington chose to place his proverbial hat in the ring that I discovered the depth of this man’s background.

Neurological Veterinarian, small businessman, and future Representative Northington has quite a tale to tell.  With each passing day, the news of Jerry Northington offers a more comprehensive picture of the person behind the prose.  Today, we can read of this thoughtful scholar and superior Congressional challenger in the news.  Jerry Northington discusses offshore oil drilling, the space program, and policies such as No Child Left Behind.  We can hear him on the radio.  Perhaps, Jerry will visit a town near you.  Then you can meet the person I finally became acquainted with face-to-face almost a year ago.  You too might have an opportunity to chat with the Congressional hopeful as I have many times now.

I wish to offer but a few chance moments in the present.  Please peruse the links listed below.  Share your thoughts.  Contribute to the campaign if you can.  Please, if you have friends or family who are constituents in Delaware, invite them to consider, and perhaps cast a ballot for Jerry Northington in September and then again in November 2008.  Be among those who can chime in, “We knew him when.”

We refer to him as Jerry, for now . . .